2022 Zozo Championship Predictions: Winners, Sleepers, Busts, and Holes to Watch at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club
The golf experts here at Sportscasting got their hands on a crystal ball ahead of last week’s Shriners Children’s Open. Tom Kim and Patrick Cantlay, our two picks to win the event, entered the final round tied for the lead, and Kim won the battle to the finish line after Cantlay triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole. We may have also had some side action on the final result, but that’s a story for another day. Sorry, Luke.
The PGA Tour schedule flips to Japan this week for the 2022 Zozo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, and we’re looking to go back-to-back without our outright winner picks and much more.
Zozo Championship predictions, let’s go!
2022 Zozo Championship predictions
Luke Norris: Collin Morikawa
Coming off a disappointing 2021-22 PGA Tour season in which he didn’t record a single victory, Collin Morikawa will kick off his 2022-23 campaign with a bang. He tinkered with his swing a touch throughout the year and rediscovered some of his old magic in the second half of the season, leading to top-five finishes at the U.S. Open and the first event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Iron play is key at Accordia, and when he’s on, few are better than the two-time major champ in that department. Morikawa tied for seventh at the Zozo a year ago and improves on that finish this week.
Jack Dougherty: Sungjae Im
There aren’t many golfers in the world hotter than Mr. Sungjae Im right now. In his last six starts, the South Korean has three runner-up finishes and hasn’t finished worse than T15. He’s gained a ridiculous 16.1 strokes on the field over that span, with his driving and iron play leading the way. Accordia is a ball striker’s paradise, and no one is hitting it better than Im. The 24-year-old hasn’t won on Tour in over a year. I think that changes in Japan this week.
Luke Norris: Lucas Herbert
I really like Lucas Herbert this week, assuming his iron play is in shape anyway. The Australian is hit-or-miss with that area of his game, but he can crush the ball off the tee, and few are better on and around the green. He’s finished in the top 20 in three of his last four starts and comes to the Zozo with something to prove after being snubbed from the Presidents Cup.
Jack Dougherty: Takumi Kanaya
Takumi Kanaya isn’t a well-known name in professional golf just yet, but he’s had an extremely successful amateur career. The talented youngster won the Japan Amateur Championship when he was just 17 years old, and he was ranked No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for 55 weeks. Kanaya struggled on the PGA Tour last season with seven missed cuts in nine starts, but his best finish came at the 2021 Zozo with a T7. He could be a sleeper to win in his home country at 120/1 odds.
Most likely bust
Luke Norris: Xander Schauffele
Xander Schauffele is the favorite at the Zozo, and while I don’t see him completely tanking and finishing in the bottom half of the limited field, I also don’t see him raising a trophy after 72 holes. Yes, he tied for 10th at Accordia three years ago but finished a full 10 strokes behind Tiger Woods. And the reigning Olympic gold medalist finished 15 back of Hideki Matsuyama a year ago, tying for 28th.
Jack Dougherty: Cameron Young
Cameron Young was nothing short of brilliant in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. The Wake Forest product recorded seven top-10s and five runner-up finishes in 25 starts. His first win is coming soon, but it won’t be coming this week. Young will be making his first start since an emotional Presidents Cup victory last month, and he’s never played a PGA Tour event in Japan. I think he’s in for a letdown this week.
Luke Norris: No. 16
While the par-5 18th will certainly provide plenty of entertainment, so will Accordia’s signature hole, the 183-yard par-3 16th, which features plenty of trouble. Hit it long or right, and you’ll likely find one of three bunkers that surround the highly-sloped putting surface. Hit it short or left, and your ball could easily find its way into the water that runs up the left side. You know how I’ve mentioned iron play a few times now? Well, an accurate one here is crucial.
Jack Dougherty: No. 14
Accordia isn’t necessarily a long track by PGA Tour standards at 7,120 yards, but don’t tell the par-5 14th that. The 14th measures 608 yards from the back tees, so bombers will have the advantage over shorter hitters throughout the week. It’s crucial to hit this narrow fairway if you want to go for the green in two. There isn’t much trouble near the green aside from a bunker short and left, so we may see some eagle chances from the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon.